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Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Something to think about if you're a Jew who lives or has lived in the United States

Here's an interesting historical tidbit I received by email from Gary P. The two phrases in Hebrew literally mean Finger of God (although most people would say Hand of God in English):
Today in 1881, the first ship of Russian Jews entered Ellis Island off of NYC as political refugee new citizens, by Executive Order of President Chester A. Arthur in the first week of his new Administration, over the vociferous objection of the State Department and Congress.

Arthur replaced President James Garfield, who was assassinated on July 2 in the Washington DC railway station, and had opposed granting Jews asylum status. Garfield is the "forgotten Presidential assassination on every American history high school examination", but the only one that had immediate and historic impact for world Jewry, so is the best known in (proper) yeshiva academic programs.

Under the Arthur Edict, nearly four million European Jews would enter the United States as instant citizens before its expiration due to World War Two. Give me your tired, your poor, your humbled masses yearning to breath free....

אצבע אלוהים .....

There is not a single official memorial plaque to President Arthur saving world Jewry in Israel or the United States save for his Presidential Memorial Library, an astounding embarrassment. 

Today, the Executive Office of the President lacks the legal authority to offer such mass sanctuary to a threatened religious minority overseas, based upon a precedent opinion of Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, the first Jew on the US Supreme Court, removing such independent authority from the White House.

(Not) Coincidentally, today is also Brandeis' yahrzeit.

אצבע אלוהים...
To me, this story sounded like too many coincidences rolled up into one. So I went to President Arthur's Wikipedia page and discovered that he did not take office until September 19, 1881. If that's correct, how did he authorize the first ship 132 years ago today, I asked Gary.

His response:
Arthur served as temporary president from July 2 and only took formal office after Garfield finally died of his wounds.
Garfield's Wikipedia page confirms that he was shot on July 2, 1881 and could not govern after that.

But the Brandeis bit doesn't work out - he passed away on October 5, 1941, which was the eve of Sukkoth.



At 12:41 PM, Blogger Mark Mandell said...

I don't think this story about Chester Arthur is true. Before the Immigration Act of 1924, immigration was unrestricted and anyone could come except Chinese, who were excluded by the "Chinese Exclusion Act" of 1882. Apparently, that same Chester Arthur vetoed the Chinese Exclusion Act but Congress overrode his veto.


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